I've noticed a change in the eating patterns of my eldest daughter lately. Choosing to have a glass of water instead of a hot chocolate when we go to the cafe. Bringing home her sandwiches uneaten from school. Only wanting rice for dinner. Complaining that she is putting on weight.
We've had discussions about natural body changes as you hit puberty - and the fact that all her friends will go through it too, only she's got there first. We've talked about it being normal and the right thing for her body. We've talked about being healthy and strong as opposed to skinny and pretty; about body size not being a reflection on your self worth. And although I think the message has sunk in to a certain degree, I think genetics is against us on this one.
Tonight she told me she wants to cut all sugar and fat out of her diet and do lots of extra exercise so she can swim faster and look better in her bathers.
My mum would have been all over this - taking me out training, organizing my meals. My dad would have been telling me how hopeless I was if I didn't stick to it, if my lap times dropped off (not to mention every other aspect of my life he was able to find fault in).
But I know more than them. I am aware of where she's heading, even if she is not. I will encourage her to make healthy choices - but these choices need to be for a heck of a better reason than just looking good in her bathers - although I know how important this can feel at her age (at any age!).
So, my mission, should I choose to accept it (and you can bet the hell I do) is Operation Helicopter Parent. I will watch what she does. I will not turn a blind eye to any increase in unhealthy behaviours. She is my beautiful, funny, creative, articulate, intelligent, and very special girl - and if she stops being able to see that for even a second I am going to jump straight in a reinforce the crap out it. And I will not let her go without food.
I think the work that Laura Collins and the other devoted parents at FEAST do is amazing - but I never want to have to use their services. This family legacy of eating disorders ends with me. If I can't shake this bastard for my sake, then I will do it for my kids so they don't have to suffer the crap I've gone through.